Bruins forward Nick Ritchie’s career year in Boston came with a deserving honor, as Ritchie was named the winner of NESN’s 7th Player Award prior to Saturday’s game with the Rangers.
Awarded annually to the Bruin who exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season, Ritchie captured the honor via a fan vote on NESN.com, and touched on it following the team’s 5-4 loss to the Blueshirts.
“That’s nice,” Ritchie said of the honor. “Obviously, being acknowledged by the fans with it being the fans’ award, it feels good that the fans voted for you and it’s a boost of confidence. And there’s been some good hockey players that have won an award, and I’m happy to to join that list.”
A middle-six staple throughout the season, Ritchie established a career-high in goals (15) during the regular season, while his 26 points currently stand as his fourth-highest single season total since jumping to the NHL in 2015.
Ritchie’s greatest impact most definitely came on Boston’s top power-play unit, where he served as the club’s most consistent net-front option, with a career-best five power-play goals (and nine power-play points in total). But Ritchie also served as David Krejci’s most stable linemate prior to the deadline, and has been a solid fit on Boston’s new-look third line.
It was a complete 180 from the first impression Ritchie made in an obviously unusual set of circumstances in 2020.
“I just had to come in with a good attitude and come in with a fresh start,” Ritchie said of his 2021 campaign. “You know, it was hard coming over at the trade deadline and at kind of the same time as COVID set in and things got a lot different. And it was new surroundings for me and it doesn’t always go smoothly. But I had the offseason to reflect on that and come in stronger and faster and just more confident, I think, with my new teammates.”
In addition to the 7th Player Award trophy, Ritchie will receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice. He will be donating to the MSPCA Boston Adoption Center.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.